Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sweet Sleep

I’ve had sleep problems for a long, long time. They got so bad when I came down with ME-CFS in ‘87 that I thought I’d go crazy. Then I had the ups and downs or many, sleeping better whenever I improved, worse whenever I relapsed, but never getting hours of refreshing sleep where I didn’t wake to every barking dog and rustling leaf.

Mold avoidance helped a lot, and my first year was a honeymoon of rising with the sun feeling ready to face the day.  But as I continued to do mold avoidance something shifted.  I thought the solution was being more careful and spent months taking everything out of my living space, washing, throwing out, replacing, blah, blah, blah.  I ended up with this nice shed where I store everything I’m not currently using.   (Shed is way in the back)


That’s when another solution appeared: Ray Peat.

The message was in my mailbox  from an unknown, kind soul dated January 1, 2014.  Almost two months later, I opened it and responded.  “Why Ray Peat? Who are you?”

It gets complicated after that, but the end of the long story is that I started sleeping.  Immediately.

Then I found that when I ignored Ray Peat’s information and ate like I used to eat, I didn’t sleep.  Uh oh.  Instant un-gratification.  Like a trainer standing by with a whip or a nudge.

Only this time the solution was sweet.  SUGAR

OK, don’t yell and don’t faint.  I KNOW you think I’m nuts. I was pretty skeptical myself.  I worried about candida, cavities, and weight gain. So far 2 out of 3 came to pass.  But it’s not all bad because I’m also
1. sleeping
2. enjoying greater mental clarity
3. tolerating thyroid hormone
4. clearing up psoriasis
5. raising metabolic rate  (e.g. body temperature)
6. drinking coffee for the first time in 3 decades and licking my lips
7. having regular predictable bowel movements

“Get to the point already and are.doing.already”
“WTF! sugar can’t do.anyone any good. It’s a fact."

Want to read a different point of view?  Here’s Ray on sugar issues ( and on glycemia (

 The guy I live with eats a lot of sugar and feels guilty about it even though he’s been healthy his entire life and is still pretty energetic.  My low sugar high vegetable diet was something he could look up to and now he gives me a hard time when I “encourage” his “bad habits.”

I was pretty resistant to the idea of eating sugar, gelatin, orange juice, milk, and other things my Peat advisor VV told me about.  I was also resistant to NOT eating starches and fiber because I love my homemade almond bread, sweet potatoes, and fresh salads from our little garden.  So the only thing I remember doing seriously at first was STOPPING ALL PUFAS.

PUFAS are poly-unsaturated fatty acids.  Things like hemp-seed oil, plus the not so nice GMO laden things like corn oil and canola oil.  Even olive oil is high in PUFA, but lower than any other oil you can buy, so a little bit of it is ok.  I went cold-turkey on nuts, cheated with no more than 4 nuts a day, substituted butter and coconut oil for fats, poured kefir on my salad instead of olive oil, ate a little more cheese and a little more yogurt than I had been doing.

When I slept night after night after night, I decided Ray Peat was onto something, and I started adding other recommendations like eating liver, reducing animal proteins high in PUFA (chicken, turkey, pork, fish) and even making jell-O with white sugar (gulp).  I read a blog by Matt Stone recommending a mixture of four parts sugar to one part salt and kept this by the side of the bed in case I woke up during the night with pounding heart or hungry or just a little unsettled.  A month later I ordered a glass of orange juice (fresh-squeezed from a restaurant) which took me an entire day to drink--it made me so full!.  Soon I got me some T3 and took a teeny tiny amount.  I slept even better.

I have no idea if other people will ME-CFS will benefit from this approach.  I knew it was for me, even though I was resistant, because the pattern Peat and those inspired by him described of HIGH serotonin, HIGH estrogen, HIGH lipid peroxidation/oxidative stress, LOW progesterone, LOW body temperature, LOW metabolic rate, LOW thyroid hormone was EXACTLY the pattern I had.

Well to be honest, I thought I had low estrogen, since my blood tests barely find any, and my boobs were small and I was always thin, while estrogen is supposed to make women fat and buxom.  Then I remembered that I did have one saliva test after I relapsed in 2000 from juice fasting where my estradiol levels were 900% above normal.  Apparently more than estrogen is required for boobs and body fat. Whatever that is, I've got it, and here's the proof:

Also, to be honest, I had no idea whether my serotonin was low or high, but I identified with the symptoms of high serotonin when I read Ray’s articles about serotonin.  I can’t remember which one I read, but this one gives a close enough idea of how that neurotransmitter relates to stress and the kinds of mood imbalances mold exposures create in me via the stress mechanism.

I remembered that Dr. Rea ( told me he uses serotonin and histamine to control reactions to environmental toxins. So I was open to doing things to lower serotonin and estrogen.
 Except there is no way in hell I was going to take aspirin!!! Even though it lowers serotonin and estrogen according to Peat.   But eventually I bought some aspirin (it has to be the uncoated kind and pure as well so you can dissolve it in liquid). So far it hasn’t burned holes in my stomach.  I’m pretty cautious though and take a very low dose.

Why did I stop PUFA’s first? It was easy enough, although I really missed snacking on nuts the first two weeks.  But I read stuff in Peat about a relationship between PUFA and oxidative stress measures like MDA.  Mine was high on my first Genova NutrEval test and I thought it was from a mold exposure.  Of course the doc recommended I increase even more, and when I took my second test, I was even higher but I knew I wasn’t being exposed.  Worse, I’d tripled the amount of fish oil I was taking. Hmmm, if Ray Peat  is right, then cutting out fish oil and PUFA foods should lower inflammation. That’s why I took that step first.  Plus it was easier NOT to snack than to make a radical turn about in diet.

You can read more about PUFA’s here, and I promise you this synopsis is easier to follow that Ray’s work on sugar.   But if you want to hear what Ray Peat has to say, go to:  (and then search for more and more)

One principle I understood early on is that the liver needs to rebuild its store of glycogen if you’ve been on paleo or something similar for a long time (I was 15 years on raw foods,raw vegan, no amylase, Pat Kane, Weston Price, paleo so I knew my liver glycogen stores had to be in the basement). If you don’t have sugar to burn,  your cells won’t be able to use thyroid.  If you take thyroid hormone and get palpitations or worse, you probably aren’t getting enough sugar needs.

If you starve yourself with a low calorie diet your metabolic rate will go down and your adrenal hormones will have to kick in to burn up amino acids.  Maybe I’ll talk about this stuff in the future in a Part 2.  No promises. I'm too annoyed with the spammers leaving comments to want to post much.

Back to sleeping before I end.  I had one week of three consecutive nights of six solid hours without waking for anything.  I even drank water before going to sleep.  The next week I had one night where I slept eight continuous hours, so soundly I didn't hear neighbors trucks or voices or even my guy waking up and going in and out. That's progress! 

If you want to learn more, here’s my brief guide to the world of Peating, Peatarians, and his maverick views on metabolism, hormones, and diet.   technical articles to keep you busy learning for at least 5 years   less technical than RP but still pretty complicated; free book on male pattern baldness (Hair Like a Fox)  interesting to women too and anyone wanting to understand cellular biology a la Peat; lots of great links too

Matt Stone at   not at all technical, not strict Peat but inspired by him, easy to read, sends out free books if  you subscribe to his blog

If you have the patience for interviews, search for RayPeat on YouTube  (I haven’t watched any of them but I hear they are worthwhile)

Somewhere in between Matt Stone and Ray Peat you can get some informative essays at: (blog)

And here’s a great index, getting close to comprehensive, for everything video and audio on Peat: